This story is by Kody Wescott and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The voice was present early that morning, taunting and jeering, before Kyle even managed to drag his eyes open.
“You’re moving awfully slow today, Kyle,” it said. Kyle ignored it, eyes focused on the ceiling and the slow rotations of the fan. “Wow. Not even a hey, good morning, how are ya? What a load of fun you are.” Kyle growled low in his throat and flung the covers off the bed. He swung his legs over the side and sat, rubbing his eyes. The voice grew quiet. Kyle glanced around. He was alone. The monster behind the voice liked to stay hidden most of the time. Liked to taunt from a distance.
Kyle stood and walked over to his desk. The lamp clicked as he turned it on, bathing the room in a warm glow. He was halfway to his door when the monster appeared across the room. They stood there a moment, staring at each other.
“You’re cutting a mighty fine figure today,” it said, eyeing Kyle up and down. Kyle glanced down instinctively, taking in his hairy legs, the stomach that hung out gently over the waistband of his boxers, his flabby, undefined arms. He clenched his teeth and turned from the monster.
“Leave me alone,” he said, and fled the room. He glanced over his shoulder, but the monster didn’t follow. It liked to let its digs simmer.
Kyle entered the bathroom and turned on the water in the shower. Steam started to curl off the water as he stepped in. The voice began mocking once again, but it was far off. Kyle focused on the heat of the water, the rhythmic patter as the droplets hit his chest. He closed his eyes, enjoying one of the few moments of peace he’d have all day. Too soon it was over. Kyle turned off the water and stepped out of the shower.
The monster had gone quiet for the moment, but Kyle knew it wouldn’t last. The longer he was away, the worse it’d be when he returned. Kyle dried himself off, and wiped away the steam from the mirror. He ran his hands through his hair, trying to force it into some semblance of order. It hung down past his ears, and somehow managed to look greasy no matter how often he washed it. He looked down to grab the brush off the counter. Suddenly the monster was there. It’s eyes bore into Kyle’s and a sneer painted its lips.
“You really think you can turn that mop on the top of your head into something even remotely appealing?” Kyle tried to ignore the jab, but it wasn’t finished. “You’d have better luck just throwing on a hat, assuming it’s not too windy out. Otherwise those sails you call ears might just carry you away.” Kyle slammed the brush back down on the counter.
“Can’t you just go away?” he pleaded.
“Would you really want that?” it asked.
“Yes!” Kyle said, exasperation bleeding through his voice. “You make my life hell. Every waking minute is filled with your ridicule. I spend any small moment of reprieve dreading when you’ll show back up. Just leave me alone!” Kyle stormed out of the room. The monster didn’t follow, but his voice hung in his ear all the same.
“You know, if I left, then you’d really be alone.” Kyle made it back to his room. The monster was waiting for him, standing calmly in the same spot he’d been when Kyle left.
“I’m not alone,” Kyle said defensively. “I have my friends-”
“Friends?” the monster interrupted. “What friends? Frank and Adam? The two jocks who are always at practice while you sit here alone?”
“Just because-” Kyle started, but the monster interrupted him again.
“Or were you talking about Hannah, Trey, and Lizzy? Do you really think they share your enthusiasm for books?”
“We read the same series. They like them just as much as I do.”
“You know that isn’t true,” the monster countered. “You see the glances they throw at each other when you nerd out about your latest read. You know they laugh about it behind your back.”
“They don’t. Trey-” Kyle tried to say, but the monster pushed on.
“And you think Frank and Adam keep you around because they actually enjoy your company?”
“They’re my best friends. I’ve known them since I was a kid.” The monster laughed, loud and shrill.
“What a lie,” it said between chuckles. “You’re a joke to them. Nothing more. A running joke that never gets old, that’s constantly providing new humor they share with their real friends.”
“Just shut up,” Kyle cried. His voice cracked. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, I do. You know I’m right.”
“You let yourself believe these fluffy lies, but deep down you know that I’m all you’ve really got.”
“That’s not true.” Before Kyle could say more his phone beeped from across the room. He walked over to it. It was a text from Emily. Thoughts of the monster flew from Kyle’s mind. We’re still on for lunch today, right? 🙂 A smile spread across his face. Of course! he responded. I can’t wait 🙂 A bubble with three dots popped up as Emily started to respond. I’m going shopping with my Mom right before. I apologize in advance if she tries to interrogate you when she drops me off. Kyle laughed. His fingers tapped against the screen as he typed. If that’s the price to have lunch with you, I’ll gladly pay it. Emily sent back an emoji of a smiling face with blushing cheeks. Another message popped up moments later. I’ve got to go. Can’t wait to see you later! He smiled again as he typed his goodbye.
Kyle set his phone down, still smiling, and turned back around to finish getting ready. His smile vanished as his eyes fell back on the monster.
“Ah, Emily,” it said. “The biggest lie of them all.”
“Stop it,” Kyle warned.
“I can’t believe you actually think she has feelings for you.”
“I said stop,” Kyle commanded with more force than before.
“Her Mom probably wanted to drop her off just so she could get a good look at you herself. They’ll share a laugh later about how an oaf like you thinks that he’s got a shot with a girl like her.”
“Shut up,” Kyle said through gritted teeth as he turned away from the monster.
“I bet she already jokes about you to her friends. Why else would she suffer through hours of your company?”
“Shut up!” Kyle yelled, slamming his hands down onto the desk.
“But maybe I’m wrong. She is a very caring person. Maybe she just has a thing for charity cases.”
“Shut up. Shut up! SHUT UP!” Kyle screamed. His fingers wrapped around the base of his lamp. With surprising speed Kyle spun, ripping the lamp from the wall. The lamp sparked as it left his fingers, and went hurtling across the room. The monster stood motionless as the lamp grew closer and closer. It struck and the monster shattered. Shards of mirror crashed to the ground. The body of the mirror rocked on its hook, but remained on the wall. Kyle staggered backwards into the opposite wall. Through the bits of glass still clinging to the mirror’s frame, Kyle could see his own reflection staring back at him.
Slowly, Kyle slid down the wall and slumped on the floor. With his head in his hands, he began to sob.